Former Surgeon General Vivek Murthy on the power of human connection

"Together" by Vivek H. Murthy, M.D.
"Together: The Healing Power of Human Connection in a Sometimes Lonely World" by Vivek H. Murthy, M.D.
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Former U.S. Surgeon General Vivek Murthy speaks about the importance of fighting loneliness during COVID-19 and beyond.

This past March, as cities and states across the country began shutting down and people sheltered in their homes, many people found themselves dealing with a sense of loneliness and isolation. The measures taken to slow the spread of COVID-19 exacerbated a trend toward social isolation in America.

Loneliness is a common human condition, according to Dr. Murthy. And how connected we are to other human beings can have profound consequences for our health, including a greater risk of heart disease, anxiety, depression, dementia, and even premature death.

He says we need to understand the role human connection plays in our life, and look at the science behind loneliness.

In his book, "Together: The Healing Power of Human Connection in a Sometimes Lonely World,” Murthy says there are three types of loneliness— in intimate connections, in friends, and in community. And he shares his strategies for addressing these problems. For one thing, he says “service is a good antidote to loneliness.”

Creating a healthier life for yourself, he says, will also create a better world. “We may be in different boats, but we’re in the same storm.”

Dr. Murthy discussed his book with Dr. Lucy Kalanathi, a clinical associate professor of medicine at Stanford University and the author of “When Breath Becomes Air.” The event was recorded in May 2020 at a virtual event hosted the Commonwealth Club of California.

To find some resources to help manage isolation and well-being during the coronavirus pandemic, check out and learn more about MPR's initiative to foster new conversations about mental health.

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